Frequently Ask Questions

Below is a list of frequently asked questions about becoming a coworker in Camphill.

* How many Camphill communities are there?
* Who lives in Camphill?
* What do people in Camphill do?
* What is the admissions process?
* Is it possible to work for a short time in a Camphill community?
* As a coworker, will I be expected to live in the community?
* What is the philosophy behind Camphill?
* What is expected of me regarding the philosophy?
* Do I have to be able to speak English well?
* What kind of work will I be expected to do?
* Do I need to have prior experience living and or working with people with a developmental disability?
* What training is available?
* Will I be paid?
* Will my travel costs be met?
* Will health and accident insurance be covered?
* What about social life?
* Are there any prohibitions?
* What about holidays?
* Can I join with my family?
* Does Camphill accept coworkers from other countries?

How many Camphill communities are there?
There are over 100 Camphill communities in 22 countries and four continents around the globe. Every Camphill community is connected to its surrounding community and culture. There are eleven communities in the United States and Canada in various settings: in towns, on the outskirts of towns and in rural districts.

Who lives in Camphill?
In Camphill, people usually live together in house communities. There may be as many as twelve people or as few as two people life sharing in a house, and sometimes a person may live on her or his own by choice. Community members include people with developmental and other disabilities, long-term coworkers who share responsibility for the leadership, managing and running of the community, short-term coworkers who come for periods of one to three years, children of coworkers, and people needing living support for a variety of reasons. A community may have one house community, or as many as 20 houses.

What is the admissions process?
Each community has it’s own admissions process, please find contact information for each of our communities over at the admissions page.

What do people in Camphill do?
Members of each house community are responsible for the care, beauty, maintaining and running of the home. They support each other in the daily work and create a unique social culture, which includes a focus on communal meals. Coworkers are responsible for the health and care needs of the people they live with. Some people need professional nursing, medical and therapeutic support.

Besides those who live in house communities, many others have a high level of involvement in the community. They are employed in a range of administrative and specialist roles (for instance in the office, therapists, teachers, nurses, assisted employment coaches) or as volunteers offering support in a particular field of interest and expertise.

Everyone in Camphill contributes to the sustaining of the community according to his or her ability, striking a balance between personal interest and community need. This may mean working together with people with developmental and other disabilities in a craft workshop producing a beautiful woven fabric or wooden toys; working in the community store and cafe; producing bread, baked goods and preserved foods for community households, for the café, and for distribution to shops and outlets; working on the farm with the animals, pastures, chickens, orchards, crops; and landscape gardening, maintaining and beautifying the property.

Regular cultural, social and festive events are a feature of Camphill communities. There are abundant opportunities to contribute to inventing, planning, preparing, creating and hosting such events together with people with developmental disabilities. These include fairs, plays, concerts, special interest events, seasonal festivals, and sacred gatherings.

Is it possible to work for a short time in a Camphill community?
Camphill life is an intensive experience of learning, growth, interactions, skill development and discovering one’s own potential and direction. It can take a little time to acclimatize to the community and find one’s place and connections. In Camphill, relationships are central to the social dynamic and healing environment. Most communities prefer at least a year commitment, as it can be unsettling for the people we support if the experience of losing relationships with coworkers is constant.

There are often openings for short term seasonal harvest and farm work in the agricultural communities (June to August). For such opportunities, please approach Kimberton Hills in Pennsylvania, Nottawasaga in Ontario, Canada, Ita Wegman Association in Vancouver Island, Canada and Copake in Upstate New York.

As a coworker, will I be expected to live in the community?
Generally, yes. You will have a room of your own within a house community and participate in meals and activities as a member of the household. Everyone in the household shares the same facilities. Some Camphill communities are encouraging non-traditional forms of service and are open to part-time coworkers with experience, skills and interests that match particular needs of the community.

What is the philosophy behind Camphill?
The Camphill way of life in the western world is interwoven with recognizably Christian elements and themes. In every community there is a core group of committed coworkers who are attempting to work out of a path of knowledge known as Anthroposophy, a philosophy developed by Rudolf Steiner that emphasizes the common elements of what it means to be human. Anthroposophy is the source of inspiration for Camphill’s healing work with children, known as Curative Education. It also helps us co-create life together with adults, based on relationships of mutual recognition and support in the practice known as Social Therapy. In every community there are ways of applying Anthroposophy that are unique to the community, and ways which all communities have in common. Camphill is an expression of a Christian path, but you do not have to be a practicing Christian to live and work in Camphill. Anthroposophy recognizes all spiritual and religious paths.

What is expected of me regarding the philosophy?
As with many spiritual paths, Camphill life creates both structured and spontaneous opportunities to unfold, express and work with the sacred in every day life, in practical ways. In relationships, for example, the application of Camphill’s philosophy is to seek goodness and wholeness in each other, to develop as daily practice the art of human respect and interest, to cultivate social processes that generate warmth and energy as an antidote to loneliness and isolation, and to work mindfully and creatively with conflicts and differences. In the communities’ spaces and buildings, the philosophy brings awareness to detail, to beauty, to color, to the way objects and spaces enhance social capacities. In work, the philosophy is intended to create conditions that draw out the potential capacities of each person and ways to nurture and develop them. In collaboration, the philosophy supports getting things done with greater synergy and results through the power of cooperation. In personal development, it promotes a willingness to work towards self-improvement. In the environment, the philosophy teaches that caring for the earth and the natural surroundings requires a healing way, without using harmful chemicals.

There are regular opportunities for coworkers to learn more about an Anthroposophical approach to life sharing, education and supporting people. You do not have to be a student of Anthroposophy to participate, but you do need to be open to the practices of the community. You are expected to support the people with a disability, many of whom have limited mobility and verbal language to attend and participate in festivals and sacred services if they so wish, and join in daily rituals such as expressing gratitude for a meal together and being present at regular sacred readings and moments of quiet. If this poses an obstacle to working in Camphill, we ask you to discuss it with us as part of your application process.

Do I have to be able to speak English well?
Yes. Many people with developmental disabilities in Camphill have limited spoken language. This can lead to frustration when communicating. Coworkers need to have a good grasp of English in order to use language creatively, often by trial and error, to discover ways of communicating that work. You will need to be able to speak English reasonably well.

What kind of work will I be expected to do?
You will be asked to help provide support with daily living to anyone in your house that needs assistance. This can mean assisting with personal care and hygiene for some, care of their possessions, recreational activities and their participation in the daily work activities. You will also be asked to cook, clean, work in the garden, farm, or workshop as part of your contribution to the life of the community.

Being a coworker in Camphill requires stamina, perseverance and an openness to learn. For those excited by this challenge, the rewards are manifold: personal satisfaction, friendships, discovering new interests and capacities, developing skills, making a difference, being part of a community effort for world healing. The selection process tends to give priority to those who are able to contribute more to the community and the people Camphill serves than they require personal support and healing for themselves.

Do I need to have prior experience living and or working with people with a developmental disability?
No. People with a developmental disability usually have fewer opportunities and less power to manage their own lives and make choices than people without a developmental disability. This means that the people we support can be vulnerable to the control of others. You do not need to have had prior experience with people with a developmental disability but you do need to be willing to come with the attitude of openness, respect and patience, to learn from the person how to support his or her needs. You need to come with an attitude that leads you to discover ways of being, listening and understanding that encourage the person with a disability to express and unfold his or her intentions.

What training is available?
All new coworkers take part in an orientation course which is offered in each community by senior coworkers and other specialized educators. Every community has a range of ongoing informal education workshops and courses which focus on developing skills and knowledge related to Camphill work, and also on personal enrichment. Beaver Run offers a formal training in Curative Education, and Camphill Village Copake offers a formal training in Social Therapy. Currently, a graduate course in Social Therapy is being designed in which coworkers will have the opportunity to enroll.

Will I be paid?
You will receive a modest stipend to enable you to cover your personal expenses such as clothes, postage, stationery and social outings. Those who serve in Camphill for more than a year may also receive a contribution toward vacation expenses. This will be negotiated with you as part of your service agreement.

Will my travel costs be met?
No. You are expected to cover your own arrival and departure costs. If you come from another country, you are required to arrive with a valid return ticket. Generally, relocation costs are not covered.

Will health and accident insurance be covered?
Usually. Check with the community you are applying to for arrangements.

What about social life?
You will normally have some time off each week. This varies in each community. This will be negotiated with you as part of your service agreement.

Are there any prohibitions?
The drinking of alcohol on the premises is strongly discouraged. It is forbidden to be under the influence of alcohol when working as it endangers the lives of the people we support. Many are on medication, and are adversely affected by the intake of alcohol. Only drugs prescribed for you by a medical doctor are permitted. The use of recreational drugs is not permitted and will result in dismissal. Smoking is usually not permitted while working or in buildings.

Sexual advances or sexual contact of any kind between a coworker and a person with a developmental disability is absolutely forbidden and will result in immediate dismissal. You will be required to formally agree to this prior to working in Camphill.

What about holidays?
The timing and duration of vacation varies from community to community. This will be negotiated with you as part of your service agreement.

Can I join with my family?
Yes. Camphill communities welcome coworkers with families. Families are fully supported while at Camphill, including extra funds for children, and fully-funded education through high school. Families are often asked to make a longer-term commitment to their community — usually a minimum of two years. To learn more, contact the community you are interested in joining.

Does Camphill accept coworkers from other countries?
Yes, people from any country may apply to become coworkers. You must submit an application to the community of your choice, and go through the admissions process for that community. If you are accepted, the community will send you visa documents to take with you to the U.S. or Canadian Consulate in your home country. In U.S. communities, the most typical visas issued by Camphill communities are B1 volunteer visas, J1 cultural exchange/training program visas, and F1 student visas. The Consulate will make a decision about whether or not to grant your visa. In the event that your visa application is denied, Camphill cannot take any further action on your behalf.

Immigration procedures have tightened recently, making it more difficult for some applicants to obtain visas to travel to the U.S. or Canada for voluntary service.

The length of stay permitted in the U.S. on one of the above visas is generally one year.